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by Script Reader Pro in Best Screenplays to Read
February 2, 2017 84 comments
horror scripts

5 Horror Scripts to Download and Take Your Horror Writing to the Next Level

Below you’ll find five classic horror scripts that every screenwriter who wants to write horror should study.

We’re massive proponents of finding the best screenplays to read in order to improve your writing craft. So, if you’re a budding horror writer (or aspiring writer of any genre) download these horror scripts and learn from the best.

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Best Horror Scripts #1: Scream

The setups in horror scripts generally go either one of two ways:

 A slow-burn opening that draws the reader into the lives of its characters, or…

 A shocking first scene that immediately hooks the reader in and sets the tone.

The writer of Scream, Kevin Williamson, opted for the latter and it’s become one of the most iconic opening scenes in horror movie history. While very tongue-in-cheek, and much satirized over the years, you can probably still remember the impact of watching this scene for the first time.

If you decide to go for a gore-fest opening intending to grab the reader’s attention like this, there’s no better place to start. Here’s the moment when the scene takes a major turning point as the caller loses it, showing Drew his true nature:

Horror scripts

Break down this scene structurally to see how Williamson escalates the tension. How he progresses from a bored young woman innocently flirting with a stranger on the phone, to running for her life.

When writing a scene, remember that the “big” ones in horror scripts like this, usually change in their emotional charge from positive to negative. Or vice versa.

Best Screenplays To Read

Best Horror Screenplays #2: It Follows

This is an inventive horror screenplay from David Robert Mitchell and was only his second feature.

When writing horror scripts, one of the most important things to do early on is establish tone. Let’s take a look at the opening lines in It Follows:

Horror scripts

Not only is the tone established right away, but we’re thrown into a situation and a character in action—a girl trying to escape something unseen on a suburban street at night. With all these factors, we’re immediately hooked.

Avoid static openings—and script dialogue in which we merely see characters sitting around shooting the breeze—by connecting with our primal fears like how Mitchell does here. 

Put us in the characters’ shoes right from the get-go and make them active in every horror script you write.

Best Screenplays To Read

Best Horror Screenplays #3: The Ring

It’s also important when writing horror screenplays that your writing style has the chops to elicit a fear response in the reader.

For example, inevitably you’re going to want to have a character creep down a hallway.  By reading horror scripts like The Ring (written by Ehren Kruger and the great Scott Frank) you’ll absorb exactly how to do it, rather than kinda-sorta bumbling along.

In this scene, read how Kruger and Frank show Rachel wake up with an uneasy feeling about her son:

Horror scripts

Note the judicious use of ALL CAPS, ellipses, em dashes and the mini-slug line, “AND FIND AIDEN AT THE TV”

This is great writing, but the best part about it is that you can incorporate all or some of these techniques into your own horror screenplays to make them stand out from the pack.

Best Screenplays To Read

horror scripts

Best Horror Screenplays #4: The Shining

This classic horror script from Stanley Kubrick and co-writer Diane Johnson is a shooting script, so contains a few formatting idiosyncrasies.

It’s not a movie script format generally recommended for aspiring screenwriters, but the screenplay is just too good to overlook (sorry, we couldn’t resist) for any writer intending to master how to write a horror script.

Here’s an excerpt from the famous scene in which Wendy retreats up the staircase swinging a baseball bat at her increasingly deranged husband, Jack:

Horror scripts

It’s also worth reading this horror script and noting how the emphasis is more on Danny and his imaginary friend than Jack and his slow descent into evil as seen in the finished movie.

Best Screenplays To Read

Best Horror Scripts #5: Annabelle

Horror screenplays are, of course, not all about gore and shocks. You need to know how to write the quieter moments too, such as this great scene from the first Conjuring spin-off: Annabelle.

Horror scripts

The script was written by Gary Dauberman and it signaled his arrival as a sought-after Hollywood writer after a couple of schlocky B-movies.

He favors a Walter Hill (The Getaway, Alien) minimalist writing style, with sentences either broken up within the paragraph, or hugging the left margin, almost like bullet points.

It’s a unique style and isn’t for everyone, so read the script and make up your own mind. There’s plenty to admire in there.

Best Screenplays To Read

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What are your favorite horror scripts? How much have you learnt from reading horror screenplays and breaking them down? Let us know in the comments section below.

Don’t forget if you’ve got a horror script you’d like us to review, check out our script coverage services.

horror scripts

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[© Photo credits: Unsplash]

84 Comments
  1. Hoan Lee says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing the scripts. Don’t ever think that we can see these script online, but now I can study them on my laptop.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Hoan!

  2. Satyam says:

    Really a great post. Worth reading. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Satyam!

  3. Siddhaarth Bhardwaj says:

    Don’t know how much you helped me… Many – Many thanks to you…

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome!

  4. Clive Carpenter says:

    Great choices. I’ve read these screenplays. I write with the same style a Walter Hill, too. I have always written like that, even when I was a kid in the 80s honing my craft as a writer long before the public had total access to screenplays like we do today.

    I’ve published 3 books of horror fiction and my readers love that style of writing because it’s quick to read and my choppy, minimalist style makes the horror feel more visceral.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Very true – good luck with the writing, Clive.

  5. Lewis says:

    Thanks guys!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      No problem, Lewis!

  6. Leoma says:

    Thanks, this website is really useful to us writers.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Leoma! Hope the writing’s going well.

  7. Daniel victory says:

    I’m really glad to come across your post. Thanks a lot, it really helped.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad to hear it – thanks Daniel!

  8. Danny Harris says:

    I want to read more scripts but don’t have the time..

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Have you seen this post, Danny? 48 Ways to Become the Most Productive Screenwriter You Know.

  9. MM says:

    THE NUN was an incredible horror script written by Dauberman! You can tell how his writing evolved to another level in it. Can’t wait to see the movie

  10. Perry Guizar says:

    Where is Alien? How can you write a post on the best horror scripts to read and not include this timeless classic?

  11. Lexie Jonson says:

    Thank you for the great writeup as usual. I’m reading Annabelle and it is a great horror script as you say.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Lexi and glad you’re enjoying the script!

  12. Deacon Mulgrave says:

    I think this is the best screenwriting blog out there. Kudos to you all at script reader pro. You’ve helped me and my writing so much I wish I could buy you all a beer!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Deacon! You’re too kind.

  13. Charles Ofuyo says:

    Hello can I shoot using scream script please its really amazing

  14. Tanishk Nigam says:

    you are great buddy

  15. Tanishk Nigam says:

    If you don’t mind can i talk to you personally related to some script work.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Sure thing – feel free to email us.

  16. Emily Bronwick says:

    What are the real benefits of reading screenplays? I read them then try to write my own but they never get anywhere.

  17. Denz Lowhot says:

    I am really so grateful for what you are doing. I know I will to a level my surrounding would never imagine I would because of what this website is adding on to my resources and abilities. Thanks a zillion SRP.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Denz!

  18. Denz Lowhot says:

    I intended to say I know I will GET to a level …

  19. Sienna Griffin says:

    Keep up the great work Script Reader!.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We will – thanks, Sienna!

  20. Danielle L says:

    I have been looking for the Others script for a long time. Do you have it?

  21. Sheri Hamilton says:

    It’s hard sitting down to read a script. Would much rather be doing something else but I know it is useful for my career 🙁

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      It’s not always easy, Sheri, but essential if you want to learn how to write.

  22. Alejandro Perez says:

    I really like all of these movies. Great selection!

  23. Yolanda says:

    This is my first time reading screenplays. Very inlightening…

  24. Chris North says:

    Horror scripts are better seen on screen.

  25. Jolie says:

    Hmm is anyone else having problems downloading the Shining screenplay?

  26. Lucinda Kovaks says:

    Excellent, what a resource this is for screenwriters!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Lucinda!

  27. Megan Braintree says:

    I was curious if you ever considered doing this for comedies?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      It’s on the to-do list, Megan!

  28. Olivia S says:

    Thanks for sharing these. Great stuff!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Enjoy!

  29. Anderson Easterling says:

    I have read most of these already. Upload some new horror scripts and I’ll be back.

  30. Tony says:

    Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find the third Alien movie script?

  31. Ollie B says:

    Does your site have a contact phone number? I need to speak to you about buying and or producing my film script. Its a horror script and is bound to shock and scare audiences for years to come. Interested then email me back.

  32. Callum says:

    My relatives all the time say that I am wasting my time trying to become a screenwriter. This site gives me hope. Thank you srp.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Yes, if you’re having fun writing, don’t listen to what other people say.

  33. Dora Collins says:

    I have to admit I don’t read as many scripts as I should. Will download these tho and get to it.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      It’s one of the best ways to learn how to write 🙂

  34. Avery M says:

    Please upload the script to Quiet Place. Thank you.

  35. Crit killen says:

    Thank you for these script! I teach screenwriting at UtahValley University and this will greatly help as examples!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad we could help!

  36. Yannick says:

    why can’t I download the script on my phone, even if I download them, it won’t open.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      If you download to a laptop/desktop it will work.

  37. Omar says:

    This was a lot of fun to read!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Omar!

  38. Trey Brooks says:

    I always used to study horror scripts but had forgotten to do it recently. This post came just at the right time.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad to hear it, Trey!

  39. Yuki says:

    I am regular visitor, are you posting more screenplays soon?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Yes 🙂

  40. Boris B says:

    Hi, thanks for posting these. I have downloaded and will read in the next week.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Happy reading, Boris!

  41. Rosie G. says:

    These horror scripts came just at the right time for me.. thank you script reader pro.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Rosie.

  42. Marc Kundinger says:

    Wow, this is great thank u!!!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Marc!

  43. Sadie Parsons says:

    Do you have the script to Suspiria the new version?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Sorry, no.

  44. Jason Samuels says:

    I LOVE It Follows . Best horror movie of last 5 years. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Yes, it’s a good one 🙂

  45. Claudia Cortez says:

    Good stuff, thx.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Claudia.

  46. Edgar T says:

    Hi i have an awesome horror script that needs to be seen on the big screen! Pls mail me at [email protected]

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We can help you with the script if you want to choose a coverage service but we’re not a production company.

  47. Veronica Chapman says:

    This is great, thank you SRP!!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Veronica!

  48. Dewayne Hulette says:

    Very nice // thank you for posting these horror scripts.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Dewayne!

  49. Matt says:

    These are the best horror scripts??

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      It’s all subjective, of course, but these are all great horror scripts aspiring writers should read and study.

  50. Stephen Foster says:

    I have an original screenplay the 1st of a trilogy which I will make into a movie can someone help me with finding production

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